Lawsuit: CMHA Police Accused of Illegally Entering Home, Shooting Dogs In Child's Bedroom


A Cleveland man is taking the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority to federal court, accusing its police of illegally entering his apartment following a drug raid at the unit below and shooting his two dogs that had been barking in a closed room.

The incident happened in July 2013, following a raid on the bottom of unit of the duplex, where CMHA police arrested the guy they were investigating for dealing ecstasy. The investigation was led by Detective Clinton Ovalle, who failed to note on his search warrant application that the E. 123rd St. building they'd be entering was a duplex — two completely separate units with separate entrances — instead calling it a single family home.

After police got their guy in the bottom unit, the complaint says, Ovalle went up to the top and knocked on resident Demaroe Colbert's door, where he was inside with his young son, a fourteen-year-old nephew and two pitbull terriers.

Colbert "answered the door while holding his dogs," telling Ovalle that his apartment was completely separate from the one they just raided," the suit says.

"You better put those mother-fucking dogs up or I'm going to kill them," Ovalle is accused of saying. Colbert put them in his son's empty bedroom and closed the door.

Ovalle then ordered Colbert and his nephew to the lay face down on the floor, and police "began their warrantless search" of the apartment.

While police were going through his place, the two dogs had been barking from the other room. One of the unnamed officers "raised his gun, opened the door slightly, and begin firing into (Colbert's child's) bedroom" and "fired numerous shots into the room killing both dogs."

After CMHA police were done with the search, they left, leaving the two dead dogs on his son's bedroom floor and dispatched the animal warden to pick them up. The room "was left a bloody mess. The floor was blood stained and bullet holes were visible in the door, walls, and floor."

Colbert and his son were handcuffed and taken to the downstairs apartment, it says.

"Since the dogs were killed," the child "refuses to sleep in his bedroom." He "now sleeps on the floor of his sister's room rather than sleep in his own room."

Colbert is suing the CMHA, detective Clinton Ovalle, and 10 unnamed police officers in federal court. They are being sued for unlawful search and seizure (Fourth Amendment), intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent destruction of personal property.

Read the full suit here:

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Doug Brown

Doug Brown is a staff writer at Scene with a passion for public records laws and investigative reporting. A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., he has an M.A. in journalism from the Kent State University School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a B.A. in political science from Hiram College. Prior to joining Scene,...
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